JBL aren’t new to audio, and when it comes to headphones, they usually do a great job of giving their customers great sound. But, JBL are new to gaming. They’ve launched a brand new range of gaming headsets of late, and the one we’re concentrating on today is the JBL Quantum One, a wired headset that features not only 7.1 simulated sound, but also active noise cancellation and spacial awareness, depending on the gaming hardware you plug it into, but more on that in a moment. For now, let’s dive into the review.
Build Quality And Features
There’s no hiding the fact that the JBL Quantum One gaming headset is a chunky set of headphones. They’re absolutely massive. And to keep the weight down JBL have decided to make this headset majorily out of plastic. This to me, unfortunately hinders its premium flagship type feel. I would have liked to have seen a bit more metal, especially around the hinges. There is though a metal rod that runs through the head band which will protect it from snaps if you accidentally bend it too far in the wrong direction. But, being plastic, it means it’s kept the weight down significantly, and the added padding around ther headband, and the fact the earcups are like two massive pillows for the over-ear feel, wearing this headset for long periods of time has been no problem at all.
One thing that I’m never keen on with any kind of headphones are exposed cables between the earcups and headbands. It almost feels like a trend, but of course, it’s there to give extra slack on the movement of the earcups. It means they can be fully extended, without putting two much pressure on the cables. It’s nice though that the cables are braided and giving some form of protection.
There are some subtle RGB LED effects that can be turned on or off, and appear in two different places. The first is driectly around the logos on each earcup, which look as if the RGB panels are covered in mesh. The second snakes in a jagged pattern around the logo, which again, feels very much on brand, and give off a nice subtle effect. There’s nothing goudy about the JBL Quantum One gaming headset, and everything is nice and tasteful, and primarily all black.
Down the left earcup you can find your interface, and for the most part, it’s very simple to use. So from top to bottom, you’ve got the ANC / Talkthrough button which switches between having full active noise cancelling audio and the abilty to hear your surroundings. You’ve got the re-centering button for head tracking, which we’ll go into in a moment. Next up is the volume wheel, and directly underneath that is the microphone mute button which only activates when you have your microphone plugged into the headset. And around the bottom of the left earcup are your inputs for the 3.5mm aux jack, your microphone input and the USB Type-C input for your audio controller, and your USB input for your PC.
Now, the controller is the interesting bit, as I find this to be a bit heavy. It’s positioned around a third way down the cable between the headset and PC, and it’s there to pan the audio between voice and game audio. For the most part, it works well, and gives gamers a quick solution to balance their audio in a crunch. That’s all it’s for though, and I can’t quite see that many gamers need to mix their audio like that on the fly, especially from a separate controller connected to their headphones. I would have much preferred to have done this in-game or through my Discord channel. But despite me not being a fan, it is built well, and the knob is very much fixed in place with very little wobble.
There is also a cable for console users too, which plugs directly into the controllers of said consoles. Well, think PS4 and Xbox One. Nintendo Switch you can have audio, but the microphone passthrough doesn’t work. For thoe most part, I’ll let you know it’s usable, but you do lose the small USB mixer functionality that you get when you use it with a PC. For this reason, I’ve stuck to using this headset on a PC for this review, just to let you know. I’m not a big console gamer anyway.
So, to give you a run down of specs:
- Driver Size: 50mm Dynamic Drivers
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 40kHz
- Microphone Frequency Reponse: 100Hz – 10kHz
- Max Input Power: 10mW
- Sensitivity: 95dB @ 1kHz
- Maximum SPL: 97dB
- Microphone Sensitivity: -41dBV @ 1kH
- Impedence: 32 Ohm
- Microphone Pickup: Unidirectional
- Weight: 369g
So the specs are pretty impressive, and in turn produce some wonderful audio quality, that we’re going to be going into. Everything runs through the JBL Quantum One driver, which downloads automatically for install when you first plug the Quantum One into your PC, and the setup is fairly simple too.
The App And Gaming
The main feature of the JBL Quantum One gaming headset uses a technology called spacial sound and head tracking. This ensures that sound is always coming from where it’s supposed to be coming from. If someone is shooting to your left or right, the headphones will as accurately as possible recreate that sound from those directions, as you can see from the diagram below.
The head tracking literally tracks your head movements, and to be honest with you, this felt more like a gimmick, as you’re going to be looking at your monitor 100% of the time anyway, and how often do you tilt your head while you play? To remind you, the Quantum One are wired, so you’re tethered to a PC regardless. If they were wireless, then it makes more sense using them with a VR system, to really take advantage of head tracking. But as it stands, it’s not that great.
For the most part though, the spacial audio worked. I was playing some Vermintide 2 and it was great hearing grunts, rat squeeks and footsteps from approaching enemies, giving me time to quickly react to the direction they were coming from. And being able to place those pesky mages that create green tornados on the map was great. I spent my time in Vermintide 2 flipping between the standard stereo and spacial sound, and while the standard stereo audio to me sounded fuller, with a lot more rumbling bass, the spacial awareness helped with my gameplay.
To really take advantage though of the QuantumSPHERE 360 as they’re touting it, you have to run a calibration which requires you to put an earbud microphone into each ear and run a series of tests. It doesn’t take long at all, under the 10 minute mark, but it definitely helped with my audio quality inside of games. If I was listening to music though, it made the audio sound very tinny, which is to be expected in some ways. Things like footsteps, glass breaking, clip reloading, patching your wounds all fall within the mids and treble range. So it makes sense that the left side of the equiliser is heightened, as these are useful cues inside of games to know where the enemies are.
Footsteps in Call of Duty Warzone were also hugely prominenet too, and there was a scenario where I was hunkered down in a house in Hills, and someone dropped in on my roof. I was downstairs, and the enemy soldier broke a window to get into the attic. It was super clear, and I just heard his footsteps plodding around upstairs. I waited until he was at the far end of the room and I popped up and shot him from the stairwell. It was insane the level of detail I could hear in that game, especially when it came to positional audio cues. Unfortunately, the audio, because of its heightened treble loses a lot of that punch that certain guns carry, and is hugely noticable in shotguns. They ended up sounding very hollow. But I suppose this is a trade off if you want to get more accurate enemy placement, and it’s definitely a welcome trade off at that. Also remember, that if you wanted to turn it off, you can. And if you’re playing a single-player experience, like Red Dead 2, then it’s well worth turning the spacial sound off to get that full, rich sound that JBL offer with the Quantum One headset.
There’s also a custom EQ feature that I would whole heartedly recommend you play around with. The default ‘flat’ profile makes for some really dull playback. There is a ‘bass boost’ preset that you can choose, but I really got the best sound out of this headset adjusting each slider myself. It’s definitely something that should be altered if you want to get the best out of the JBL Quantum One.
There’s also ANC, or active noise cancellation, which does a fairly good job of blocking out external audio like conversations happening in the background, or constant tapping on your keys if you’ve got a mechanical keyboard. The biggest issue here is the fact that you need USB power to activate the ANC. This means you won’t be able to take these headphones onto your train commute to work and enjoy silence that ANC promises. I wish they had some kind of built-in battery for this, which will truly make the Quantum One a jack of all trades headset. The microphone has the same kind of ANC functionality, but it’s not nearly as clean. Speaking of microphone quality though, it’s not bad at all, and definitely one of the stronger boom arm mics that I’ve heard on a gaming headset. The voice sounds full, but it does suffer that slightly crispy and distored sound that gaming headset microphones are suscepible to. If you’re looking for something to produce for your livestreams, this isn’t it. But it’ll do a good job if you want great sound while playing a few rounds of Valorant with your friends in Discord.
Outside Of Gaming
It’s not just gaming that the JBL Quantum One changes the way you hear things. I mean, a great example would be listening to my friends’ podcast, the SuperShow over on YouTube. Go check it out if you haven’t already. And what was interesting is listening to all the little details in their voices and the way they speak. You know, the natural smacking of the lips, or a muffled swallow, or small breaths. Their podcast is recorded well, and the sound quality through any device is decent, but with the JBL Quantum Ones, it was just so much more detailed.
I’d like to point out too that JBL offer DTS 2.0 too with these headphones, which is especially great when it comes to watching media sources. This helps bring surround sound to the headset when watching a movie or TV series or something through Netflix or Amazon Prime. And it sounded absolutely great! I’d recommend if watching media, you switch it down to DTS, as using the JBL QuantumSPHERE 360, it again made media sound extremely tinny. And that’s something you definitely don’t want, especially during big action scene moments. The Mandolorian, now that Season 2 has dropped finally – sounded absolutely wicked. No spoilers, but the final fight scene, absolutely marvelous, and again, there was a great amount of deatil in subtle sounds, that you just wouldn’t pick up if you were using these headphones in standard stereo sound.
The only time I reverted back to the standard stereo sound was when I was listening to music, as music can rarely take advantage of 5.1 audio or bigger, unless it’s been intended for that type of content, like special orchestral recordings and what not. But if you’re like me, who enjoy their music on their desktop through streaming apps like Spotify or Amazon Music or whatever else, then you’re going to have a great time here.
JBL has certainly entered the gaming market with a massive bang, producing a set of gaming headphones that could quite easily rival the top dogs of the industry. The Quantum One is packed with a load of features that not only sounds great, but for me anyway, actually somewhat improved my performance and reaction speeds inside of games as I was able to place enemies. Plus, if you’re like me who spends most of the time at a PC either working or chilling out, this headset has you covered, as even music and watching movies provides you with extremely decent sound. If it wasn’t for the way you connect to a PC, with the built-in mixer and a USB cable, these would become my headset full time. But because I rely on a GoXLR for my audio for streaming purposes, it’s got to be compatible with that. But if you’re looking for a straight plug and play with minimal setup gaming headset, then look no further than the JBL Quantum One, as long as your budget can stretch that far, as they’re not cheap. Right now you can find them online for around £229 here in the UK, which is pretty expensive. But, for the sound quality you receive you could justify the cost. For more information, head over to the JBL website.